Simmons is actually in his second professional season. But because he didn’t play last year (due to injury), the NBA still considers him a rookie for this award. Maybe the league should. Maybe it shouldn’t. There are reasonable arguments to be made for both sides – when changing the policy wouldn’t fit such a clear agenda. Obviously, Simmons should be eligible this year.
And maybe it’s Mitchell who’s not the true rookie?
Andy Larsen of KSL:
Lots of rookies have done those things. I get that the Jazz are going for hyperbole, but this just comes across oddly.
“A rookie doesn’t join Michael Jordan has the only other in a stat.” /flips page. Here is a stat accomplished only by Mitchell and Jordan DURING THEIR ROOKIE YEARS.
“A rookie doesn’t lead 19-28 into a 42-32 record.” Mitchell’s early inefficiency contributed to Utah’s slow start. That’s a demerit on his résumé, and it still counts as part of his case. It factors into why I’d pick Simmons.
I won’t nitpick all of these. Sending these kits to voters ranges from silly to gaudy. Mitchell, like all award candidates, shouldn’t be credited or punished for these PR campaigns.
He is having a special rookie season – emphasis on “rookie.” His production wouldn’t be nearly as notable if he were a veteran. That’s fine, because he is a rookie. We should just celebrate that.